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Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed

Alan , the hook that ended up being swallowed
YOANI SÁNCHEZ, La Habana | Diciembre 17, 2014

With the pessimism that has now become chronic in our society, many
Cubans thought that Alan Gross would only leave Cuba, “in a box,” in an
image allusive of a fatal outcome. The stubbornness shown by the Cuban
government in its relations with the United States didn’t presage a
short-term solution for the contractor. This Wednesday, however, he has
been exchanged for three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States,
bringing to a close a long and complicated political chapter for both

Gross was only useful alive and his was rapidly deteriorating.
And knew this very well. Hence, in recent months he raised
the decibels around the proposed exchange for the agent Antonio Guerrero
and the officials Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández, all serving long
sentences in the prisons of our neighbor to the north. To the extent
that the 65-year-old contractor grew thin and lost his vision, official
campaigns grew increasingly insistent about the exchange. When Gross
threatened to kill himself, the alarms if the island’s government went
off and the negotiating schedule accelerated.

Barack Obama, for his part, made clear that any change in policy toward
Havana would come up against the insurmountable obstacle of an American
imprisoned for “threats against the security of the State.” Even the New
York Times had suggested an exchange in one of its editorials on Cuba,
and the publication of that text in such a prestigious newspaper was
read as a preview of what would happen. As in every political game, we
see only one part, while in the intricacies of power the threads of the
agreement made public just today were being woven.

For those of us who know the mechanism of pressure used by the Plaza of
the Revolution toward its opponents, the capture of Gross itself was a
move aimed at recovering the Interior Ministry’s agents. The contractor
wasn’t for what he did, but rather for what they could do with
him. It was a simple hook and he was aware of this from the beginning.
His crime was not in having brought satellite equipment to connect the
Cuban Jewish community to the , but rather in carrying in his
pocket a passport that immediately converted him into a medium of
exchange on the board of tense bilateral relations between Washington
and Havana.

If we review the five years of captivity endured by Gross, we see a
well-designed information script that the Cuban government used to put
pressure on the Obama administration. Each image that came to light
publicly, each visitor allowed to see him, was authorized with the sole
condition of reinforcing the exchange proposal. In this way, the Castro
regime has managed to get its way. It has managed to exchange a peaceful
man, embarked on the humanitarian adventure of providing connectivity to
a group of Cubans, for intelligence agents that caused significant
damage and sorrow with their actions.

In the game of politics, totalitarian regimes manage to win over
democracies because the former control the public opinion inside their
countries, determine all legal results to suit their purposes, and can
continue to waste their nation’s resources trying to free the moles they
sent to their adversary’s camp. Democracies, however, end up conceding
because they must answer to their own people, they must live with an
incisive press that criticizes them for making or not making certain
decisions, and because they are forced to do everything possible bring
their dead and alive back home.

The Castro regime has won, although the positive result is that Alan
Gross has emerged alive from a that promised to turn into his
grave. Now, we can expect long weeks of cheering and slogans in which
the Cuban government will proclaim itself a victor in its latest battle.
But, there is no space in the national pantheon for so many
still-breathing heroes, and little by little, the recently returned
agents will lose importance and visibility. The myth created for them
from a distance will begin to fade.

With the main obstacle for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations
eliminated, the only unknown is the next step. Is the Cuban government
planning another move to return to a position of force vis-a-vis the US
government? Or are all the cards on the table this time, before the
weary eyes of a population that anticipates that the Castro regime will
also win the next move.

Translated by Mary Jo Porter and Ernesto Suarez

Source: Alan Gross, the hook that ended up being swallowed –

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